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Harvey, John

by Lindley S. Butler, 1988

d. December 1679

See also: John Harvey, Research Branch, NC Office of Archives and History,

John Harvey, Proprietary governor of Albemarle, was probably born in Warwickshire, England, the son of Thomas and Mary Harvey who received a grant on Harvey's Neck, James City County, Va., in July 1640. John Harvey married Dorothy Took, the daughter of James Took who had settled in Isle of Wight County by 1653. By 1659 the Harveys had moved to the "Southward" to the region that in 1663 became Albemarle County, Carolina, and they are among the earliest known permanent settlers in North Carolina. After the Carolina Proprietary was established, John Harvey secured grants from Sir William Berkeley, governor of Virginia and a Lord Proprietor, to 850 acres in two tracts. Harvey settled on a 600-acre plantation on Currituck Creek (now called Symons Creek) in Pasquotank Precinct and later sold his 250-acre grant in Chowan Precinct. On his plantation he emphasized livestock, eventually acquiring a herd of nearly sixty cattle, "a great stock" of hogs, and forty sheep.

Harvey began his service on the governor's Council during the term of Governor Samuel Stephens (1667–70); he remained on the Council until 1676. The Council, an important institution in the colony's government, advised the governor, comprised the upper house of the General Assembly, and constituted the General Court, the highest court in the colony. Harvey, a highly respected member, was selected by the Council in April 1672 to accompany and assist Governor Peter Carteret on a mission to England to present a list of grievances to the Lords Proprietors. Pressing business matters, however, forced Harvey to abort his journey at New York in July.

Although sympathetic with the anti-Proprietary party, Harvey was not actively involved in the factional strife that culminated in Culpeper's Rebellion. He retained the trust of both parties, and on 5 Feb. 1679 the Lords Proprietors commissioned him president of the Council. The appointment of Harvey as acting governor was acceptable to the rebel council and contributed to the lessening of tension in the colony.

Harvey was survived by his wife, Dorothy, although the Harveys may have had a son, James, who died as a youth. Dorothy Harvey died in December 1682, leaving her estate to her brother, Thomas Took, and his family. A cousin of John Harvey, Thomas Harvey, was deputy governor of the colony from 1694 to 1699.


Lindley S. Butler, "The Early Settlement of Carolina: Virginia's Southern Frontier," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 79 (1971) and "The Governors of Albemarle County, 1663–1689," North Carolina Historical Review 46 (1969).

John L. Cheney, Jr., ed., North Carolina Government, 1585–1974 (1975).

J. Bryan Grimes, ed., Abstract of North Carolina Wills (1910).

J. R. B. Hathaway, ed., North Carolina Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. 3 (1903).

Nell M. Nugent, comp., Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Land Patents and Grants, 1623–1696 (1934).

Mattie Erma E. Parker, ed., North Carolina Higher-Court Records, 1670–1696, vol. 2 (1968).

William S. Powell, ed., Y e Countie of Albemarle in Carolina: A Collection of Documents, 1664–1675 (1958).

William L. Saunders, ed., Colonial Records of North Carolina, vol. 1 (1886).

Additional Resources:

"Land patent granted by John Harvey to John Varnham." November 27, 1679. Colonial and State Records of North Carolina volume 1. 253-254. Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (accessed February 8, 2013).